Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010...Every Single Day Of It!

"I think in terms of the day's resolutions, not the year's."
Henry Moore, British sculptor

When I was a little kid, I remembered being simply terrified of the thought of death and dying. I can remember fearing what came after this earthly life; not necessarily because--at that time--my life on terra firma was all that wonderful or full of things & people I'd really miss. No, I feared death for the same reason most humans fear anything or anyone: because I didn't know anything about it. As a matter of fact, the first time I became intimately familiar with death was when my father died two weeks after his 69th birthday, on July 20, 1995, when I was 32 years old. He had died of complications of untreated hypertension (well, untreated until it was too late & his heart & kidneys had basically been destroyed). I will always remember seeing him lying in his coffin, with an artificial peace painted onto his face. The last years of my father's life were anything but peaceful, and anything but golden for him, or for his family.

Up 'til then, somehow God had spared me of such an intimate knowledge of that thing that seemed to have always frightened me. Looking back at my early childhood, for a good long while, I think I became obsessed with the thought of death, and wondering what sort of horrible fate awaited me "on the other side"...if there WAS an "other side". I guess my life experiences at that point were not the happiest, so I automatically assumed that whatever came after life would be at least as unappealing.

As I grew older, and as I learned about God and faith, and those famous streets of Heaven paved with gold, I (very slowly) came to understand that--trite as it may sound--death is simply part of the famous "Circle of Life", and that all who are born must--one way or another--face the end the of the world. To this primordial rule, there are no exceptions or exemptions, and no higher authority from whom we can seek a reprieve. We are all born to die, whether we are prince (or princess) or pauper; whether we are greatly loved or thoroughly despised. In the end, there is always an end. Always.

If you've read this far, you could not be faulted for thinking that the subject about which I am writing is such a downer, especially for a post meant to welcome in the Baby New Year, but I hope you will be able to see the method to my madness.

With the death of my father, came a realization for me that in pondering & fearing whatever awaits us all on the other side of the thin veil of this life, I was allowing my own life here to slip past me. I was concentrating on that one leaf on that one tree & missing the big, beautiful forest that surrounds us all. In devoting so much of my own time & energy trying to find a way to somehow prepare myself for the end of all things, I was leaving so much undone & unseen in the here-and-now. In that way, my father & I were exactly alike: in not seeking treatment for his illness until it was just too late, he didn't take care of his life; and I didn't take the time to enjoy & appreciate the time I have in each moment of life that was gifted to me--giving away time I can never again retrieve to fear instead.

Like most people, I am quite familiar with that old saw, "Take life one day at a time". Until recently, though, when my world was shaken so ferociously by the end of my 13-year relationship, I don't think I really understood the true meaning behind those words.

Now, as I learn to live my life alone (for a while anyway), I am almost forced to "get it". While I have noticed some marked improvements, the truth is that my new reality is still difficult for me to adjust to. I don't have the luxury any longer of planning my life years, months, or even weeks in advance. I HAVE to take my life "one day at a time"--sometimes an hour at a time.

Even in this new uncertainty in my life, and even in the midst of a heartache that still feels too sadly fresh sometimes, I am beginning to see the glimmer of a redemptive purpose to all I have thus far survived. I've begun to notice the quiet miracle of each sunrise. I've quite literally stopped to smell the roses. I've begun looking up again toward the heavens at night & trying to count a sky full of stars. These, and and all the other "small things"--commonplace to so many of us--are the REAL stuff of life, yet most of us--admittedly by necessity sometimes--are just too busy not taking it "one day at a time" to really take note of all that quietly comprises our lives...and we do so at our own peril.

In none of it, are we given a promise or a guarantee that what we have & whom we love will be ours tomorrow...we're not even promised a tomorrow. If I never understood that before, I do now.

So, though I loathe all those yearly resolutions I have never before been quite able to honor past the the initial week or two, as we begin the first day of the second decade of the 21st century, I hope to learn to have my eyes opened even more to the blessings--great & small--that abound in my not-so-unique life.

In being intentionally & even stubbornly cognizant of all the gifts in my life, I am now aware that the path I must tread to emotional & spiritual wellness is not one that I can even face one day at a time, but one small step at a time.

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